In addition to being our latest Instacouple crush, Jessica and Claudia Kellgren-Fozard are spreading the message that, contrary to what we see in pop culture, many people with disabilities enjoy rich love lives.
200,000 subscribers on YouTube and some 16,000 followers on their shared Instagram, where they regularly post photos and videos documenting the life they're building together.
Their dynamic is admittedly a bit of "opposites attract": Jessica loves high-femme vintage fashion, while Claudia is more of a tomboy. (They joke that if Jessica is a lipstick lesbian, she's a "chapstick lesbian.")
But they're also gaining fans because they don't shy away from the fact that Jessica, 28, has disabilities: Born with two genetic disorders—one neurological and one affecting her connective tissue—she suffers from chronic fatigue and pain, and must sometimes use a wheelchair. She's also deaf and usually wears hearing aids.
"We want to show able-bodied people that disability isn't scary," Jessica tells NewNowNext, "and that dating someone with a disability is not a terrifying prospect that they should close their minds to."
Claudia, 30, is a dentist by day and a photographer in her spare time.
Jessica works as a TV presenter and social media consultant (one with more than 34,000 followers on her personal Instagram.) She was established on YouTube prior to meeting Claudia, whom she says is actually "a bit of a technophobe," and regularly vlogs about diverse topics, from vintage fashion and recipes to feminism and lesbian films.
She also frequently uses sign language in her videos and discusses her disabilities candidly.
Jessica admits dating was tough before meeting Claudia, with the women she met generally falling into one of two camps: "One was women who'd run a mile as soon as they found out something was 'wrong' with me. And the other was the ones who wanted to mother me, so they immediately desexed me."
Then she met Claudia, she says, "who genuinely didn't care—which was amazing."
The two met online in 2014 and got engaged after only four months. (Claudia proposed to Jessica in Rome on her 26th birthday.) They bought a house one year to the day after meeting, and were married in a Quaker meeting house in Bristol in September 2016.
"I am not one for the slow burn," Jessica says. "The day we met, I felt as if a part of a puzzle piece clicked into place and that I'd met my soulmate. I am very mushy, clearly. I firmly believe in love at first sight now."
Before they moved in together, Jessica says she had to rely more heavily on caretakers, but now Claudia helps with most of those needs. "She's also an amazing advocate when it comes to doctors making sure I don't slip through the cracks. And she constantly reminds me to take my meds."
Rounding out their family are their two dogs: Walter, a 10-year-old Bichon Frise, has been Jessica's companion animal since he was a puppy. They received Matilda, a two-year-old Pomeranian-toy poodle mix, as a wedding gift.
They couple say they'd like to have kids at some point, and also become foster parents. In the meantime, they're content to nurture their small family and keep sharing their love story with their followers.
"A lot of young disabled people think they will not have a chance at romantic love," Jessica says, adding that they want to show them they're not alone, and that finding true love is possible. "We also want them to know that Claudia's love isn't because or despite of Jessica's disability—it's just another part of who she is."
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